All that said, I do find the article's use of "servant" somewhat demeaning. Is a self-employed tradesman like a plumber a "servant"? How about a freelance software developer? Where do you draw the line?
what's special about Lyft drivers to Uber Eats? seems like absolutely nothing
You don't just order a person waiting for orders to cook you a meal special for you, though, and have their daily income depend on whether you ordered or not. That was a problem restaurant owners had -- which was part of the "risk" in being an entrepreneur.
Cooks weren't paid per meal (door-to-door salesmen were paid in commission, musicians might been paid for gigs, etc, but that was the exception not the rule -- working gig per gig was a thing for hobos during the Great Depression). Now this model is getting more widespread ("gig economy").
Not sure whether you intended to use scare quotes around risk or asterisks for emphasis. The entrepreneur’s role is coordinating present production with future demand and placing real-money bets accordingly. That’s no freebie.
You keep using this word, commission. I don't think it means what you think it means.
Yes, job's are not for life, and if a business goes under, or if you don't show up, etc, you will get let off/fired.
That's not the same as a "per gig" payment.
>An employee’s stable, dependable paycheck is a comforting illusion.
Well, in many places in the world, it's a concrete reality, protected by law. You can't get fired without notice (and in some places, serious cause), you're given several months pay if you're laid off, and you have legal right to your payment as long as you're employed whether the company has business that day or not (e.g. an off day or week at a restaurant).
With a "gig economy" workers, none of these guarantees exists.
They're more like freelancers with very small contracts.
single-task servants for the middle class: (...) the people fulfilling those tasks lack even the basic job security of having a steady employer
Didn't Agatha Christie say something like: "I never thought I would be so poor as to not have staff, or so rich as to have an automobile."
Let’s say a $15 minimum wage for custodians is instituted. Sure, it’s great for the “lucky” ones who remain employed. A moment’s reflection shows they aren’t lucky at all: they’re going to be the most productive of the bunch and not selected at random. This policy, allegedly put into place in the name of fairness, is decidedly unfair to people (for example young, inexperienced, or disabled) whose hourly productivity lies between the arbitrary minimum and consumers’ actual demand, or to the staff at the place of business who just picked up additional “other duties as assigned” because cleaning services just got so expensive.
Competing on price for low-skill work that anyone can walk in off the street and do (that is, lots of competition) is a terrible strategy compared to competing on quality. Think: “Acme Cleaners, where all our employees have passed multiple background checks.”
A sure-fire way to become a unicorn: raise $1B in VC. You're instantly worth a billion dollars, just based on your bank account.
Where I live now there is no Uber but there is no app for taxis either. You have to call a number, be able to speak Spanish, wait 3-5 minutes and then they'll tell you the ID of the taxi, which you have to remember. If anything goes wrong the taxi driver has to call the station which in turn will call you and try to figure out where you are.
Sorry but screw that!
Economically poor but time rich --> servant
Serfdom 2.0 Ladies and Gentlemen
Remember kids, like Adam Smith said: in an efficient and competitive market, the price of a good or service falls to the cost of production.
If you believe him, what does that mean for labor?
But today we have below replacement fertility in the West- finally some progress!
It means you are fairly compensated for your work and you pay fair prices for the product of other people's work.
I'm not talking about fairness in terms of equality. People are not equal in terms of economic value they never will be. Indeed, some people have no better choice than accept a job that pays less than a living wage. Would you deny them that possibility by mandating that every job needs to pay a living wage? Isn't that unfair?
There's this lovely fiction in law that contracts should be upheld because two consenting parties both get ahead by reaching a bargain. All transactions are positive, so we should uphold bargains as a default. Super duper.
But then history gave us a ton of examples of contracts which are negotiated in the context of a power or informational asymmetry. Boo.
Contracts for labour are predominantly contracts which are negotiated in the context of power and informational asymmetries, which is why developed nations have backstopping legislation to prevent wholesale abuse.
I guess your original statement being untenable forced you to redefine fair to mean 'whatever they agreed to' which is tautological. Yes, the agreements will be what was agreed to, but does that actually address the post you were replying to?
But then history gave us a ton of examples of contracts which are negotiated in the context of a power or informational asymmetry …
No two people or entities possess the exact same information. You don’t define how you’re using power. Every transaction can be said to have these asymmetries, a tautological characterization that happens to be a bogeyman from cultural Marxism.
Voluntarily agreed contracts, in contrast, are a distinct and thus helpful category. Seeing as much does require the realization that some contracts’ terms are rejected and consequently never become agreements.
Basic contract theory requires A. A is not always true. Accordingly, we modulate applying basic contract theory on the basis of how true A is. When A is not true, we don't apply it.
This applies in respect of large M&A deals as well as in respect of labour law. Making transactions work better requires us to understand when transactions work well and when they don't.
If there's a power difference to the point of coercion, it's coercion and one party is not consenting. Otherwise, it's still fair. Of course a company is "more powerful" than an individual. Still, a company cannot coerce you into working for them specifically.
As for informational asymmetry, that is part of trade. The time you spend on getting quotes is opportunity cost. It goes both ways, too. If you're selling labor, your employer has no way of knowing whether you're as competent or productive as you appear. There's nothing inherently unfair here.
Of course, there's a point at which informational asymmetry turns to outright fraud. Again, at that point there is no real consent.
> Contracts for labour are predominantly contracts which are negotiated in the context of power and informational asymmetries, which is why developed nations have backstopping legislation to prevent wholesale abuse.
Such as? Last I checked, nothing stops me from offering cheap junk for a ridiculous sum of money, nor is there a law preventing me from attempting to hire workers well below market rate.
There are some political attempts at price fixing (such as minimum wage), but they generally don't work. They're either so loose as to have practically no effect or they cause shortages/unemployment.
Yes, coercion and fraud are bad, but you'll note that you're indicating that the quality of consent appears to be on a sliding scale from 'we're reaching a real agreement between well informed equals that stand to benefit from a transaction' to 'an unsophisticated economically distressed person is forced into taking a poisoned deal'.
Yes, the law recognizes that not everyone is sitting firmly on the 'ideal contract' side of things, which is why in areas where there are systematic issues, it modifies the way the contracts work.
>Such as? Last I checked, nothing stops me from offering cheap junk for a ridiculous sum of money, nor is there a law preventing me from attempting to hire workers well below market rate.
Perhaps you don't believe labour standards, collective bargaining rules, minimum wage, and other pro-worker laws exist, but they do.
If you want to know more about the specific frameworks that exist in your jurisdiction, you can just look up any employment law digest that covers your area. If you're an employer most jurisdictions have 'employer community' circulars that contain employment law related briefs in a short newsletter format that tell you things like "Don't sexually abuse your workers" and "Don't let your workers collect evidence that you pinch secretary ass regularly".
In fact, if you're in the civilian legal world, the entire field of nominate contracts is essentially the legal community fixing systemic problems associated with different fields of contract, one by one.
Maybe you hate labour laws specifically, and want to ignore the idea that 'contracts as an idea can be gamed'. Take a look at the SEC, then. They perform the exact same function, but for wealthy investors. Do you hate them too? Are you upset you can't release yet another vaporware ICO to fleece a few hundred crypto hopefuls? I really hope not.
Forced by what? By their personal situation? Even in this case, both sides stand to benefit. Any better hypothetical deal simply isn't on the table. That person still has the choice not to take the deal or to try and find another deal.
> Perhaps you don't believe labour standards, collective bargaining rules, minimum wage, and other pro-worker laws exist, but they do.
Indeed, there is always and at any time a great deal of lawmaking and lobbying underway to regulate things that presumably need regulation. This in itself is not proof that the market mechanism needs such regulation.
I already dealt with minimum wage, it's price fixing and it doesn't work.
Collective bargaining (like any bargaining) requires no laws, it is a natural right. You are right insofar as that there are some anti-discrimination laws in place presumably protecting union workers.
Safety standards are an interesting topic. Last I heard, there's no law forcing employers to publish statistics on accidents, to properly inform the laborer on the risk they are taking. They're expected to trust "safety standards" set by the government and (presumably) checked by the government. Yet they fully bear the risk of their job. They are responsible for themselves. They can and must refuse to perform an action that they deem is endangering themselves unduly.
In any event, you are dragging in a lot of stuff that goes beyond "a trade" and into labor law. Labor isn't "one transaction" that could be deemed fair or unfair. The terms are re-evaluated constantly and if there is a disagreement, either parties can terminate.
> Take a look at the SEC, then. They perform the exact same function, but for wealthy investors. Do you hate them too?
You can drop your "hate" allegations, please. Insofar as we are talking about regulating fraud, it is fine. Insofar as we are talking about being the nanny for foolish investors to not make foolish investments, it is unwarranted.
>Collective bargaining (like any bargaining) requires no laws, it is a natural right.
No it isn't, because absent laws people tend to do things like break your knees with a lead pipe if you're a union organizer.
Which happened in the states. All the time. Until the union organizers hired the mob to defend them, resulting in the teamsters running a number of unions like a racket.
No thanks. I don't like any of that.
>Safety standards are an interesting topic. Last I heard, there's no law forcing employers to publish statistics on accidents, to properly inform the laborer on the risk they are taking. They're expected to trust "safety standards" set by the government and (presumably) checked by the government. Yet they fully bear the risk of their job. They are responsible for themselves. They can and must refuse to perform an action that they deem is endangering themselves unduly.
1) Who are "They"?
2) So you agree there's an informational asymmetry, but you put the burden on the weaker party in the transaction to be responsible for the calculation of the costs and effects of it (despite agreeing they don't know as much about it).
3) You should look up OSHA. Lol.
Are we starting to understand how that allocation of responsibilities, along the axis of 'who has power here', results in sub-optimal procedures for mitigating risk? Or did you expect everyone who works in a factory to have a triple PhD in materials engineering, industrial chemical design and ergonomics, so that when a piece of warehouse scaffolding is stressed because it is loaded past it's specs, they can diagnose the defect through examined differences in metal spalling patterns, then inform their employer and not be censured for the act (because, remember, according to you we shouldn't have labour standards).
Again, no thank you. I'd rather have society put together so that people don't need to be an expert in every safety critical expertise in order to avoid harm from others.
> No it isn't, because absent laws people tend to do things like break your knees with a lead pipe if you're a union organizer.
You keep dragging things out further and further. Am I led to believe that without laws supporting unions, breaking knees suddenly becomes legal?
> So you agree there's an informational asymmetry, but you put the burden on the weaker party in the transaction to be responsible for the calculation of the costs and effects of it (despite agreeing they don't know as much about it)
I'm not putting the burden on them. The burden is on them, as a pure matter of fact. Every worker is ultimately responsible for the risk they put upon themselves. If they get injured or killed, they are the ones harmed. They're the ones who have to make the call.
Of course an employer that hides information on safety hazards or is otherwise negligent is liable for endangering others.
None of this is specific to trade. You're talking about fraud, coercion and extortion and all kinds of things. It's going nowhere. Of course nobody willfully "consents" to being endangered, defrauded or extorted.
> Again, no thank you. I'd rather have society put together so that people don't need to be an expert in every safety critical expertise in order to avoid harm from others.
You arguing against straw man libertarian, not me.
Your statements regarding legal responsibility, which is what you were critiquing (remember we're talking about contracts!), are all VERY wrong. But a lay person strolling through the thread wouldn't know it, so maybe your argument seems plausible. Half the time, though, you're not making a 'legal responsibility' argument but rather a 'moral responsibility' argument. The is/ought dichotomy exists, and is a common place where people get tripped up when discussing law.
The rest of the discussion isn't really worth having given that core miscommunication. That said...
>You arguing against straw man libertarian, not me.
You literally doubled down on the same position for three paragraphs in the very same post. lol
Can you accept that words don't all have one meaning? Maybe you willfully misunderstand what people are saying so that you can win a debate that you started, on your terms? I don't care about "winning" a debate with you. Nobody else is reading this, it's just you and me.
> Your statements regarding legal responsibility...
See, I never made a statement about legal responsibility. You want to talk about legality and law and power and justice and morality. I'm talking about fair market prices.
Of course "fair market prices" aren't going to be "fair" at every possible level of analysis, under every moral framework, in every single instance in the history of mankind.
For you, it's all power games and injustice and exploitation. For me, it's people cooperating voluntarily without centralized control. In my eyes, it all works pretty well. In your eyes, it doesn't and it all needs regulation and intervention. We're not convincing each other otherwise.
Though the wealth of a country should be very great, yet if it has been long stationary, we must not expect to find the wages of labour very high in it. The funds destined for the payment of wages, the revenue and stock of its inhabitants, may be of the greatest extent; but if they have continued for several centuries of the same, or very nearly of the same extent, the number of labourers employed every year could easily supply, and even more than supply, the number wanted the following year. There could seldom be any scarcity of hands, nor could the masters be obliged to bid against one another in order to get them. The hands, on the contrary, would, in this case, naturally multiply beyond their employment. There would be a constant scarcity of employment, and the labourers would be obliged to bid against one another in order to get it. If in such a country the wages of labour had ever been more than sufficient to maintain the labourer, and to enable him to bring up a family, the competition of the labourers and the interest of the masters would soon reduce them to this lowest rate which is consistent with common humanity....
But it would be otherwise in a country where the funds destined for the maintenance of labour were sensibly decaying. Every year the demand for servants and labourers would, in all the different classes of employments, be less than it had been the year before. Many who had been bred in the superior classes, not being able to find employment in their own business, would be glad to seek it in the lowest. The lowest class being not only overstocked with its own workmen, but with the overflowings of all the other classes, the competition for employment would be so great in it, as to reduce the wages of labour to the most miserable and scanty subsistence of the labourer. Many would not be able to find employment even upon these hard terms, but would either starve, or be driven to seek a subsistence either by begging, or by the perpetration perhaps of the greatest enormities. Want, famine, and mortality would immediately prevail in that class, and from thence extend themselves to all the superior classes....
A fair price doesn't imply "good" or "enough to live off". Ultimately, only so many people can live off a finite amount of land. The amount of labor regulates itself as well (i.e. less children are born).
A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation.
Smith also writes at length of the power imbalance between business owners and employers, who can and do collude to keep down labour wages, whilst labour has far less power (and in his time, no legal right) to organise to raise them. Of the inherent inequality and dangers of piecework pay. And of the differential returns to various economic goods and activities, particularly wages, commodities, rents, interest, assets (to Smith, gold and silver), and public goods. More recent economic understanding is that the marginal cost / marginal price, and differential risk / consequence dynamics of such interactions provide distinct behaviours and advantages to specific powers. The inherent imbalance between wages (tending to subsitence, or below) and rents (tending to all consumer surplus for the producer), create an inherent conflict.
Then there are the problems of corporate ownership and behaviour (roundly criticised by Smith in the form of join stock companies), the corporatisation of violence ("Regulated companies, it was observed by Sir Josiah Child, though they had frequently supported public ministers, had never maintained any forts or garrisons in the countries to which they traded; whereas joint stock companies frequently had", and general collusion of commercial interests against those of the common weal.
The passage I'd previously cited ties wages largely to economic growth, stagnation, or decline, and the story it paints is both stark and well worth consideration.
I'm well aware that Smith on occasion argues for protectionism to "smooth out" that extinction process. That's welfare. It has no bearing on fair prices in free trade.
Which is a great deal of what Smith discusses.
And no, it's not welfare. It's balancing political power.
Because, "Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says, is power."
(Yeah, Smith again.)
These are orthogonal. A fair market price simply isn't equal to the price that is required to sustain someone's living. A fair market price also is not equal to the price that could be paid (i.e. the "resources available").
The laborer whose price is raised to some arbitrary limit that is above the market rate will find demand for their labor disappear in equal measure.
... does not exist.
And the market, and economy, should serve the people. Not the people the market.
"POLITICAL œconomy, considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator, proposes two distinct objects: first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign."
> And the market, and economy, should serve the people. Not the people the market.
This is a meaningless slogan. The market is the people. Demand reflects what people need. Supply reflects what people have to offer. Prices reflect their agreement.
Because it doesn't.
If you look at tinder, this concept of finding compatible people by economic goal, interest and location is really the ideal things we want from the internet.
But instead we're back to the basics of market mechanics, profitability, jobs, consumption, comfort, and the ability to make money. It's not surprising. But I still have faith in an internet of proximity where people post ads, talk with nearby people for stuff they need or trade, instead of letting big money own how internet gets to be used.
I don’t want to get in a car driven by some random person, I want them to be vetted by at least Uber and other Uber passengers. I don’t want to let just anyone stay in my house, I want assurance from others’ experience that the person staying won’t trash it.
People seem to value the credit rating systems.
When that company rightfully craters, the blast zone is going to be spectacular.
The above is a very cynical interpretation. What it fails to capture is the idea that incremental benefits multiplied by millions of people is a huge NET benefit to society as a whole.
An anecdote: Arrived at the airport the other day and the baggage claim was backed up by about 30 minutes. While 30 minutes is not a big deal, multiply it across the 300 hundred or so passengers on the flight, and you'll get about 6 ENTIRE HUMAN DAYS were wasted due to an operational inefficiency.
But hey, who needs uber when it only takes a few minutes to hail a cab? ;)
One of my early projects at Google involved latency optimization - incredibly boring, invisible stuff. At the end of the project, we'd saved maybe 20ms/search, and my boss was like "20ms/search * 3 billion searches/day = 60M seconds/day = 16K hours/day. Every day, you've saved humanity 16,000 hours of their lives."
And then I 20%'d on the PacMan doodle, which had an estimated 400 million hours of total playing time. Well, shit. There goes the next 68 years of latency optimizations.
(As an aside, this feels a lot like what Silicon Valley does. Save time on your job so you can waste it on social media, crypto gambling, or computer games. You just can't win, because there is no win condition - we'll continue to exist regardless of what we choose to do in the meantime.)
The doodle is a net win, because it makes people happy (and they can skip it if it doesn’t). The latency makes everybody sad. You increased net happiness in the world.
20ms sounds like very little, but have you ever tried to get anything done in a place where everybody has a lax attitude towards time?
I might be particularly sensitive to it - I have a strong preference for low latency and tight controls in everything including cars. Ten or fifteen seconds bootup, don't care too much. I click on a browser tab and it takes 200ms to switch - ugh, is there a better browser?
Too bad all these savings are eclipsed by js cruft.
And, in some ways, it really doesn't matter, by itself. 16,000 hours. 68 years. Those are potentials, not realities. You give or waste time. But what is that time used for? Do people make any meaningful usage of it? What is meaningful?
Some will say everything is. Some nothing is. But trying to find a middle path and to keep at least some semblance of objectivity, are we making meaningful usage of our time? As a civilization, as a species, is humanity headed in any particular direction? Is it a good direction? Are we progressing?
And, more practically, if we don't have good answers to those questions, does giving people more time to waste, really matter?
If you use a derivation like your boss did as the KPI, sure. But the way he did it seems like the wrong way to go about it. Would make more sense to me to think about it in terms of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremermann%27s_limit, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_degrees_of_influence#Mor..., and gradients of computational latency. Quite literally the function call latency of the global information supply chain^Wsocial graph.
Remember: A vehicle full of people is a rolling wetware data center.
was that a purposeful choice?
But on the other hand, it might not be as productive as other things we do. And we have alarm clocks to do exactly what you suggest.
"Exploiting the discrete nature of DST transitions and a 2007 policy change, I estimate the impact of DST on fatal automobile crashes. My results imply that from 2002–2011 the transition into DST caused over 30 deaths at a social cost of $275 million annually."
I said that its a one-time cost versus those lives (I estimated 20 a transition, for 40 a year), and those lives win even with a very high return on money now.
Nobody won the debate.
one hour of time collectively is not equivalent to one minute * 60 people's time individually.
in something like packet processing maybe so. but it doesn't generalize to waiting to get your luggage checked. it's horribly inefficient to staff for peak load. that cost will be borne by all the people that come in during the average times, for no reason.
when i go to starbucks, fuck it i shouldn't have to wait in line at all. think about the 30-60s line wait (ie, waiting just to place your order) times 300 people that might come through starbucks in an hour during peak. shouldn't starbucks just hire 2 more people and have 4 more machines so that all the time spent waiting by the customer isn't wasted????
There is no moat in moving something from a billboard to a smartphone app, there is no obvious way in which this 'appification' industry is actually profitable or a viable business.
One particularly prominent example being moviepass. Is there some potential gain for customers in there somewhere, yes obviously but does that mean that sending you a credit card and having investors subsidize your cinema habits is a viable business or even worthy of being called 'technology'? No.
Probably servants are better compensated too because the transaction has fewer middlemen.
And since you need someone to walk your dog every day during your two-week vacation, that would involve calling Eric, Margaret, Phillip and then in the middle of it coming up with Margo's number because Eric got cold.
I can't fathom the kind of constant stress one must be under to consider this a big problem.
Blue Apron is Uber for... what? Aren't the boxes just delivered by ups or fedex or usps or whatever? Do they have independent contractors filling the boxes?
Measuring food into portions.
Any reason why each "Uber-for-X" should be it's own company with its own custom built back ends and front ends?
* Turn-key standing up of Uber-for-X service
* Automating provisioning and downtearing of Uber-for-X services based on economic supply & demand (Think Microservices and Heroku Dynos)
* ...doing all that as a non-profit, because once you automate that, how does the money flow, assuming an open source application?
I mean hell you could probably do half of this within a few months if you also use eTurk or something. Could even use Remote Personal Assistant services, too. Just would need a really good process model before you can start on starting with that.
Come to think of it, what Uber-for-X companies do sound a lot like something almost completely covered by things like this sluggish monster:
Originally developed by the biggest telcos. (Yes that is why this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3IPVWN-1ks applies to ALL carriers.)
1. Background checks for service providers - https://checkr.com
2. Asset Tracking & Analytics - https://www.hypertrack.com/product
Frankly after that one time when my driver turned in reverse to face the wrong way I don't think there are any in practice and the system had been gamed a long time ago.
People who work in the "servant" (aka service) industry using platforms like Uber are happy to have the opportunity.
Giving people more work options is good, not bad. This idea that letting suppliers and consumers compete in a free market leads to a "race to the bottom" is an old trope that has been around since at least the time of Marx (Marx himself claimed that free market exchange would lead to the impoverishment of workers as a result of mechanization).
The reality, as confirmed by economists and demonstrated by statistical evidence, has always been exactly the opposite: real wages have steadily increased over the last two centuries, meaning people are forced to work fewer hours to meet their basic needs, and have more time to do what they genuinely want.
Even in a perfectly free market, overcoming the challenges of organizing a complex economy to raise the standard of living is a daunting task, strewn with the carcasses of dead startups, and years of sacrifice in funding and building out businesses to test new models, and in maintaining and administering established businessses to provide people with the goods/services that let them live their lives.
We don't need to add to these difficulties with paternalistic restrictions on private property and free exchange rights motivated by bad ideas like the author's.
It doesnt have to be split that way. "Living as a service" is our future, as more and more people end up living but also working on-demand instead of steady home / 8 hours. Technology was supposed to be the lubricant that would catalyze this conversion, and these startups might be just the beginning. Automation will only accelerate the trend, and in the end the platforms themselves will be commodified, because these services rely on physical proximity which inherently limits their network effects (hence why they subsidize their prices - a futile endeavor). I think attacking the model is not helping, improvement is what it needs.
This AI doesn't have morality and it can never have morality simply because they aren't human. Individuals have morals. Corporations have objectives. And their objective is to maximize economic utility at all costs. So they launder money for drug lords and terrorists https://www.foxnews.com/world/hsbc-knowingly-helped-mexican-... https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/hsbc-holdings-plc-and-hsbc-ba... . Knowingly kill human beings in clinical trials http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/02/pfizer.bextra/index.htm... . And undermine the commons to maximize their utility towards their ends.
While capitalism as a whole isn't an AI, it is an amazing computational process that has produced the greatest advancements in the standard of living in history. But the process is also similarly unmoved and lacking in human morality simply because it isn't human. It takes the route of lowest resistance and it creates to satisfy the utility function that it is computing. And that's it.
Is it a shock that these processes have exposed these vulnerabilities in our society?
You seem to be under the impression that humans would do the right thing. This claim is repeated without justification. In fact, the claim is ridiculous on its face because corporations are certainly human, given that they are run, operated, and staffed by human beings. Claiming them to be 'not human' is simply copping out facing the depraved reality of human existence.
the GP statement is, by that argument, strictly correct. 'composed of' humans is not the same as 'being' human.
He did go on to say, this exposes the weakness in society, which is a collection of humans.
In its current state capitalism is far from what it was just 50 years ago, I don't see anything crazy about pointing out its current flaws and working on them. It'll be changed anyway, the only choice we have is to be an active part in the process or be moved by it.
I don't want to sound too cynical. Humans are doing better than before. Royalty and Aristocracy used to justify slavery and among other horrible things. It's a long road to get to a better society, and everyone is responsible for having moral values and sticking by them. If we want life to be about more than just making money we all have to talk about it, start valuing people that do good and not make everything about money or status. We can't scapegoat this shit to "AI" it's a human problem.
How do you know this isn't true? That is, how are you certain that these various organizations, either alone or together, don't actually exhibit the emergent behavior of intelligence?
The prime test would be to attempt to probe for that intelligence, though exactly how would be a great question to solve.
If you survive the process, then it is likely that the answer is "no intelligence is found". It might also be that the intelligence exists, but either didn't notice you, or you don't know what to test for, or it is ignoring you.
If you don't survive the process - that is, you meet an untimely (and possibly strange) death - that might be indicative of such intelligence, and it is protecting itself.
Ask yourself this: If one of your neurons suddenly became sentient, and started to try to "poke around" and figure out if this network it is a part of is actually in fact an intelligent being - what would you do if you found this out? Would you leave it alone, as a curiosity? Or would you take action to somehow stop it?
The question is similar to figuring out the "simulation hypothesis" - just at a smaller scale...
No, not at all. The entire premise of capitalism is to exploit labor.
> capitalism as a whole isn't an AI, it is an amazing computational process that has produced the greatest advancements in the standard of living in history.
Uh, I think this claim would be hotly debated. Human innovation and curiosity -- tied with scientific knowledge that is carried forward is responsible for standard of living improvements. Things like medicine, building materials, entertainment, access and logistic improvments, yada, yada. Capitalism is just an economic system of letting the buyers and sellers decide where to allocate their funds? If you were talking about a separate measurement, like GDP, I would probably agree with you that capitalism advanced that metric.
It's indicative of an era of cheap and dumb money, where FOMO is driving investment - just like before the dotcom bust.
It's humanity's for not aligning the incentives of these great systems properly.
A while ago, I conjectured that Land Rent Theory doesn't properly factor in live-in servants, something I suspect would minorly affect the mathematics of it. By how much on a micro-scale, I can't say, but based on this an the above article, a more macro-scale-economical thought follows, on a more interesting level of abstraction than 'communal land prices':
If we consider an area a given Uber-for-X service operates in, and given that the employees there finance their living within that area by working for those companies, don't those employees then map to them effectively becoming live in-servants of the entire group living within the respective areas of operations?
You know what live in-servants used to get called in some circumstances?
If you have an immediate answer to that question, you might want to think about whatever answer you immediately had at hand for a bit and how it got there.
And if not, you might want to think very hard about which message you've failed to notice here.
He's talking about slaves.
Are these circumstances involve free will and ability to make decisions about one's fortune or lack thereof?
The inequalities of capitalist economies are not exactly news. As my colleague Esther Bloom pointed out, “For centuries, a woman’s social status was clear-cut: either she had a maid or she was one.” Domestic servants—to walk the dog, do the laundry, clean the house, get groceries—were a fixture of life in America well into the 20th century. In the short-lived narrowing of economic fortunes wrapped around the Second World War that created what Americans think of as “the middle class,” servants became far less common, even as dual-income families became more the norm and the hours Americans worked lengthened.
What the combined efforts of the Uber-for-X companies created is a new form of servant, one distributed through complex markets to thousands of different people. It was Uber, after all, that launched with the idea of becoming “everyone’s private driver,” a chauffeur for all.
An unkind summary, then, of the past half decade of the consumer internet: Venture capitalists have subsidized the creation of platforms for low-paying work that deliver on-demand servant services to rich people, while subjecting all parties to increased surveillance.
These platforms may unlock new potentials within our cities and lives. They’ve definitely generated huge fortunes for a very small number of people. But mostly, they’ve served to make our lives marginally more convenient than they were before. Like so many other parts of the world tech has built, the societal trade-off, when fully calculated, seems as likely to fall in the red as in the black.
"Unkind"? How would we make it less "unkind"?
Later we learned one of the founders was Brian McGarvey, someone we had worked with in a prior startup. His idea was to take Kozmo.com up a notch. It exemplified the dot-com boom, and now Facebook, Uber, and much of Silicon Valley then and today: get rich quick, fuck humanity.
 Much the same way Trump's election is America being honest with itself.
The whole "rich vs poor divide" angle is nonsense. Like the article admits, all of these services were available before, but now they have the form of an app. The money goes to develop and advertise the whole show (creating jobs), but also to subsidize the labor. In effect, these services are more affordable than before. Uber is cheaper than a Taxi. Having your groceries delivered can be cheaper than doing it yourself, even if you earn small.
All that venture capital comes from the rich and goes into the pockets of those who aren't rich. It's dumb money, the same kind that made pets.com (a ludicrous business) go to a 100 million dollar market cap. As soon as that capital dries up, these shops will close down, or raise prices. They will never make their money back, because nobody will be able to maintain a monopoly on a service that almost anyone can perform. That's also why the labor itself will stay cheap, no matter who the middleman is. It's not like these jobs were highly lucrative before all these capitalists walked in.
> It really is a job platform designed to take advantage of people who need multiple jobs, and surprise surprise, there's a slew of 'em here.
Any job offer is taking advantage of the fact that people aren't magical self-sufficient entities. There's nothing wrong with offering a job, nobody is forcing anyone to take it.
> It simply wouldn't work in a country that did not have such huge wealth disparity.
Wealth disparity has nothing to do with it. Uber prices are set by supply and demand. In some countries, Uber may need to pay more to attract drivers - and raise prices as a result.
It's a platform for turning random unskilled people with cars into a cheap, temporary, on-demand labor force. You don't have to invest in a vehicle fleet, you don't have to train anyone, you don't have to pay for medallions. You just grab a random yo-yo with a vehicle and a clean driving record and they start making you cash.
You can't do that with a Taxi. For a Taxi there's a huge capital, personnel, and operational investment. To become a NYC Taxi driver, you need:
An application, an $84 licensing fee, a $75 fingerprinting fee, criminal background check, $15 copy of state driving record, no outstanding traffic or parking tickets or child support payments (??), a medical examination [you pay for], a $26 drug test, a six-hour $50 defensive driving course, attend taxi school (24 to 80 hours, $125 to $325), $25 English written and spoken proficiency test (optional $20 prep test), and a $60 wheelchair accessible vehicle training course. For the license you may have to memorize lots of information about your municipality. Only half of license test takers pass. You can join a company and earn 2/3 your fare per day minus fuel costs, or rent a cab for ~$100/day plus fuel. If passengers pay by card you may pay up to 10% in fees. You may have to carry general liability even if your cab company insures you.
Or you can become an Uber driver if you have a new car, insurance, and a clean record.
To make money with a Taxi, you need to drive around 10-12 hours 5 days a week, ideally at peak hours. The base rate is around $10 an hour, but if you get good you can make double that. Tips can make up to 40% of income. Based on this, you can make minimum wage or higher.
With Uber, you drive when you want. But you can't drive an unlimited amount. So if you're doing this to support a family, you have to drive both Uber and Lyft and maybe work another job or two on the side. It's expected that this won't be your only job. You have to already be investing tens of thousands of dollars in a vehicle, and also already have other income.
This kind of driver never existed before. Someone who is partially wealthy, but needs more cash, but doesn't have time to go job-hunting and find part time work. Someone who never would have driven for a Taxi company, but will take their own car and time to make odd trips around the city for hours at a time. A non-Taxi driver who will do Taxi-like things.
So what's new is the Uber driver herself. She only exists now because she was formerly lower-middle class, and now she needs 3 jobs to support herself. It's the platform designed for the widening wage gap. And it is horrifying that that's where our economy is now: a slow, steady erosion of economic security for more and more of the country.
Uber has been losing money ever since its inception, so it's clearly not making them so much cash.
> For a Taxi there's a huge capital, personnel, and operational investment.
Maybe in the U.S. with all its regulation.
> To become a NYC Taxi driver, you need...
Who cares? Taxis aren't all the same worldwide, they're still taxis. An unregulated/unlicensed taxi is still a taxi.
> You have to already be investing tens of thousands of dollars in a vehicle, and also already have other income.
If it's really such a sucker's game, people can just stop doing it.
> So what's new is the Uber driver herself. She only exists now because she was formerly lower-middle class, and now she needs 3 jobs to support herself.
If she needs three jobs to support herself maybe she'll prefer having the choice of working for Uber over not having it. Her situation is neither Uber's fault nor responsibility.
But this part of the ending really bothered me:
> Venture capitalists have subsidized the creation of platforms for low-paying work ... while subjecting all parties to increased surveillance.
In general, there has been a remarkable lack of privacy or security violations by the so-alled "gig economy" companies. The author seems to be conflating the previous generation of information-only companies like Facebook and Google with gig economy companies like Uber. For all its ills, Uber does not get enough credit for the fact that it does not sell or otherwise distribute the customer's data for money. Instead it provides a service in exchange for pay. The information customers provide to Uber stays with Uber, which cannot be said of Facebook, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn or just about any other information-only tech company.
That the author chooses to end his article with a factually ignorant statement about surveillance reveals a how devoid of substance the rest of the article turns out to be.